CHARLESTON - Five area students were among 40 high school juniors honored Monday with the U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award.
The students were presented with the award by United States Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II during a noon ceremony at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Federal Courthouse in Charleston.
Among the local youths honored were: Ashley Donohew of Ripley High School; Andrew Ely of Ravenswood High School; Samantha Shimer of Wirt County High School; Logan Cox of Parkersburg South High School; and Jared Haught of Parkersburg High School.
The U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award program is an initiative led by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia which recognizes high school juniors who have shown outstanding leadership skills and a commitment to social justice.
"I was very pleased to honor 40 high school juniors from throughout the Southern District as United States Attorney Ambassadors for Justice," Goodwin said. "These are students with a good ethical compass who would be willing to step forward and do something if one of their peers was making a self-destructive decision or bullying someone else."
"I am confident that they will take an active role in building and sustaining a dialogue. Their ideas and perspectives are invaluable toward rooting out current social issues and threats that jeopardize student achievement," he said.
The U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice program was created by Goodwin as a result of numerous reports of school bullying and social media threats involving young people. The award was also prompted by a February school shooting which claimed the lives of three young people and wounded two others at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, as well as other events.
Goodwin said several studies have shown that more than 60 percent of bullies in school typically end up serving time in jail by the time they reach their 20s.
Nominations for the U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award were made by the principal and administrative leaders of the students' respective school. Goodwin said that outstanding character, devotion to citizenship, and a commitment to serving others were also fundamentals for the award nomination.